Keep This In Mind Before You Rent A Car Overseas
By Shontel Horne
In preparation for trips abroad, I decided to rent cars for adventures through Reykjavik, Iceland and the Azores so that I can explore the vastly different regions at my own pace. I’ve rented cars in the US for years and I didn’t think the process would be drastically different to rent cars in Europe, but after so research, I discovered two major ways in which renting a car in abroad is different from renting a car in America, and the differences are more important than you may think.
THE HOLDING FEE
When I made my reservations for my rental cars in both Iceland and the Azores, I was thrilled to see that the price per day was comparable to renting cars in the States. My rental for a mini for two days in Iceland, which is notoriously expensive, came to a little over $100 including taxes and fees, which isn’t awful considering how pricey the island can be. Rentals in the Azores can also be found for as little as 17 EURO a day, but while the overall rental price is a budget-travelers dream, I noticed that both of my rentals required astronomical holding fees on my credit cards, with the Icelandic car rental company holding what came out to $2,500 for just two days and the Azorean company holding 800 Euro for my week-long rental.
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After some digging, I saw that it was common for companies to hold such large amounts to protect the cars, though I was able to get the company in the Azores to hold just 200 Euro if I paid for extra insurance. The holding fee to rent a car in the US is usually a few hundred dollars, so if you’re renting in Europe, be sure to ask how much will be held once you pick up the car so that you’re not caught off-guard by a $2,000 hold on your account.
LEARN TO DRIVE A MANUAL
Cars with manual transmissions are getting harder to come by in the United States, and before my plans to drive in Europe, I’d never had a reason to learn. Through booking my car rental reservations, it became clear that in parts of Europe, manuals are the majority, and if you can find an automatic car to rent, be prepared to pay a premium. Terrified that I would be stuck in the Azores as people try to instruct me how to operate a manual in Portuguese, I called on a friend to give me a quick course on how to drive a stick so that I can hit the road without fear. If you don’t know how to drive a manual and you plan on taking a road trip through Europe, I highly recommend getting the rundown on how to properly drive a stick. A short two-hour lesson can help you avoid a stressful situation while you’re abroad.
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